Cecilia Abadie, a member of the Google Glass Explorer program, was pulled over by the California Highway Patrol this weekend for going 75 miles an hour in a 65 zone. While she doesn’t dispute speeding, Abadie didn’t expect to receive a a separate citation: a ticket for wearing her Google Glass unit while driving.
So, what does this mean for people outside California? Washington law has language similar to the applicable California law in RCW 46.37.490, which reads:
(1) No person shall drive any motor vehicle equipped with any television viewer, screen, or other means of visually receiving a television broadcast when the moving images are visible to the driver while operating the motor vehicle on a public road, except for live video of the motor vehicle backing up. This subsection does not apply to law enforcement vehicles communicating with mobile computer networks.
Under that statute, if you get pulled over by a member of the state police, it’s possible that they could cite you for wearing Glass. That said, because of the size of Google’s Explorer program, wearing Glass while driving doesn’t seem to be a huge issue around the state, at least not yet.
“As far as I know, we haven’t come across (someone wearing Glass while driving),” Sgt. Sean Whitcomb of the Seattle Police Department said in an interview.
While Glass hasn’t become an issue for the SPD just yet, Whitcomb says he hopes Glass users exercise common sense behind the wheel.
“It’s just common sense, you probably shouldn’t wear something that distracts you, interferes with your eyes while driving, right?” he said.
Google, for its part, issued a fairly bland response to the citation.
“As we make clear in our help center, Explorers should always use Glass responsibly and put their safety and the safety of others first,” a Google spokesman said in an email. “More broadly, Glass is built to connect you more with the world around you, not distract you from it. It’s early days for Glass and we look forward to hearing feedback from Explorers and others in advance of a wider consumer launch next year.”
In its Glass FAQ, the company makes clear that wearing the device while driving might run afoul of local laws, and that Explorers should check with their local DMV about whether or not wearing Glass while driving is kosher in their jurisdictions. It’s not clear yet whether the company plans to advocate for Explorers’ ability to use Glass behind the wheel.
Blair Hanley Frank is GeekWire’s Bay Area Correspondent. He has also worked for Macworld, PCWorld and TechHive. He can be found on Twitter @belril.